News Corp's operating income rises 22 %

MUMBAI: The Rupert Murdoch controlled US media conglomerate News Corp has reported fourth quarter consolidated revenues of $6.1 billion, a 12 per cent increase over the $5.5 billion in 2004's quarter.



For the year ended 30 June 2005 it earned revenues of $23.9 billion, an increase of 15 per cent over the $20.8 billion in fiscal 2004.

Consolidated operating income for the fourth quarter of $955 million was up 42 per cent over the $674 million a year ago. For the year, operating income was $3.6 billion, an increase of 22 per cent over the $2.9 billion in 2004.


The Star Group's fourth quarter and full year operating income more than doubled on revenue growth of 24 per cent and 14 per cent, respectively. Revenue gains for both the fourth quarter and full year primarily reflect the continued strength of Star Plus and Star Gold as well as contributions from several new channels in India. The television segment as a whole reported fourth quarter operating income of $344 million, a decrease of $7 million versus the same period a year ago, and full year operating income of $952 million, a slight increase over 2004. Record operating income at Star was offset by higher programming costs at Fox and a soft US ad market.

News Corp chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch said, "We are extremely pleased with the continued growth we achieved during 2005. Star received approval to launch a DTH service in India and doubled its earnings contributions. 2005 marked our third consecutive year of record profits. What is pleasing about this past year is not just that we once again delivered double-digit revenue and operating income growth across nearly all of our businesses but perhaps more significantly many of our developing businesses turned profitable."



The movie segment reported fourth quarter operating income of $109 million, up $14 million from the $95 million reported in the same period a year ago, and record full year operating income of $1.1 billion, up 17 per cent from the $905 million reported in fiscal 2004. Current quarter and full year results primarily reflect solid worldwide theatrical and pay-TV revenues and strong contributions from film and television home entertainment releases.

The results were largely driven by the home entertainment performances of Alien vs. Predator, Sideways and Napoleon Dynamite, as well as contributions from various catalogyue titles including Ice Age. Additionally, the worldwide theatrical distribution of Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith and Mr. and Mrs. Smith, as well as the pay-TV availability of The Day After Tomorrow and Garfield contributed to the strong fourth quarter results.

Cable network programming reported fourth quarter operating income of $137 million, an increase of $17 million over the fourth quarter a year ago and record full year operating income of $702 million, an increase of $214 million over 2004. Fox News Channel (FNC) reported operating income growth of 30 per cent for the fourth quarter and 40 per cent for the full year fuelled primarily by double-digit advertising revenue growth, which was partially offset by higher costs associated with covering international breaking news stories. During the quarter News Corp states that FNC further increased its leadership position as the number one cable news channel, more than doubling the viewership of its nearest competitor in prime-time and nearly 90 per cent higher on a 24-hour basis.

The net a priority for the future: Going forward media reports indicate that News Corp is preparing to spend up to $2 billion on the internet. Murdoch has said that this is the group's top priority as far as global expansion is concerned. It is said to be looking at buying a small internet search engine and is also developing its own mass entertainment website. The Fox sites that are present at the moment are more promotional in nature.

So far this year, the company has spent more than $700 million investing in Web companies. As had been reported last month by News Corp signed a definitive agreement to acquire Intermix Media for approximately $580 million. With the addition of MySpace,and Intermix’s network of sites, News Corp expects its web traffic in the US to nearly double to more than 45 million unique monthly users.

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